His mother died of breast cancer when he was 2 years old. He never knew his father.
His two older brothers didn’t make it past 10th grade. One is in prison.
At 18, McMillan is on his own now. He has moved three times in recent years, sometimes staying with friends. No one made him go to school or study. He didn’t need them to.
“I choose to because I want better for myself,” McMillan said.
He not only received his high school diploma from Weaver Academy for Performing & Visual Arts on June 12, 2014, he also graduated with a 3.0 GPA. He is an award-winning football player for Northeast High and an extremely talented artist.
“He’s a great young man, and I know he’s going to go great places,” said Christie Squire, a counselor at Weaver Academy, and one of many people who stepped in to support McMillan.
McMillan’s success comes without the supports other people take for granted, Squire said. When he was younger, he participated in Youth Focus and Kids Path — programs for at-risk or troubled children.
McMillan admits he sometimes felt sad, angry or frustrated, especially as a high school freshman. “I really didn’t know who I was. I would just be sad. I would blame a lot of stuff on myself that’s happened to me, and I just didn’t know how to deal with it,” he said.
He would see other students and their parents and wonder why he didn’t have his parents.
“It would just really make me sad sometimes to see it,” he said.
At Weaver, Mrs. Squire, Principal Johncarlos Miller and others supported McMillan when he couldn’t be strong. “You have to let your past stay in your past and move forward from that,” they would tell him, McMillan said.
When Squire became a counselor at Weaver two years ago, she learned about her students before working with them. She knew McMillan by name before they officially met. She talked to him about football and encouraged him to do well in his classes.
McMillan found parent figures & support in Squire, Carmen Bunton & Coach Rodney Knight, whose sons are his teammates. Bunton met with McMillan to assist him with school work and drove him to tour colleges. Coach Knight provided McMillan with positive fatherly support at pivotal & challenging times in his life. He was always checking in with Bunton & Squire about Jordan. Bunton, Squire and Knight worked together to support McMillan with graduation, applying to college and just overall support.
Jordan McMillan said his grandmother, Bernice McMillan, is his biggest motivation. Bernice McMillan raised Jordan until he was 11, as well as his brothers. His grandmother is sometimes hard on herself about his brothers going astray, McMillan said.
“She just doesn’t want the same for me, and I just can’t do my grandmother like that one more time,” he said.
Jordan has been accepted into Brevard College where he plans to study Art this fall and is a member of the BC Tornados football team. The total cost of attendance for an on campus student is $35,370/year. Due to his hard work as a student, Jordan has won a total of $31,160 between institutional scholarships, federal aid, loans and grants.
McMillan has had to deal with adult things at a young age, Squire said. When he applied for financial aid, he had to declare himself as an independent student. Because of the rarity of a high school graduate being declared an independent student, he had to find his mother’s death certificate in order to begin to get any financial aid.
After years of searching and wondering why he couldn’t find out more about her death, he finally got an answer. Her name was misspelled on the paperwork.
Most people don’t know what McMillan has gone through to get this far.
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